You Only Live Once: Guca festival lures trumpet afficionados

Hundreds of thousands of people have flocked to the small central Serbian town of Guca to join its famous trumpet festival, a delirious street party fueled by non-stop live brass bands.

Thick smoke from dozens of barbecues engulfed Guca, which is shaken up every August by hundreds of thousands of visitors to its famous 10-day-trumpet festival.

People from all over the world come to see the festival which is more like a crazy street party with everybody dancing to the infectious Balkan beats of the brass bands that make their way through town.

"We love the music of course, but we were surprised and amazed by the people and the atmosphere. It's crazy!" a young Italian couple, Ricardo and Clementina, who did not give their last names, shouted over the music.

The atmosphere in Guca is really unique. The streets of this small hilly town literally become a big open-air club where everything goes.

Enormous quantities of beer or 'rakija', local strong brandy, usually homemade, can be bought anywhere during the festival.

"I've drunk all of these," proudly shows a young Serb party-goer, showing a strange sculpture made of some 40 empty beer bottles.

The festival, which was originally started to honour the art of playing the trumpet, is also a competition of the best brass bands in the region.

It soon acquired a reputation as one of the wildest parties in the Balkans. This year's slogan: You only live once.

During the day piglets and lambs roast slowly on old-fashioned coal barbecues. Lured by the smell, foreign visitors, who according to first estimates make about one third of crowd, take the opportunity to try the local specialities: svadbarski kupus - cabbage traditionally made for wedding celebrations- or fresh lamb roast.

In the restaurants and on the streets people of all nationalities dance together to the trumpet sounds, tipping the musicians by putting bills on their sweaty foreheads.

In front of the monument to a trumpet player on Guca's central square, some hundred people danced deliriously as Serbs try to teach the foreigners the steps to the traditional 'kolo'.

"Unlike other festivals, here, musicians are close to you: you are in the middle of the band, you can talk to them," explains Markus, a young German fan of the Balkan beat sound, dance beats fused with the sounds of Balkan brass bands and gypsy music.

"I love the Balkan beat, we have many clubs in Berlin that play it. The beat is almost like in electro-music," he says, joining musicians dancing.

Markus, who did not give his last name, is staying on a camp site on a hill overlooking the town. The tents stretch to the banks of a small river and for the campers the party lasts from dawn till late night.

Members of the brass band of the faculty of medicine in Bordeaux, "Los Teoporos", came to feel the mood in Guca and play with the local musicians.

However they did not enter the competition for foreign bands, introduced for the first time this year.

"We cannot compete, the bands here play too fast, it is unbelievable." explained Xavier.

Delighted with the atmosphere, Los Teoporos are equally satisfied with how the festival-goers welcomed their music.

"The only bad thing is that no one can play after three in the morning, the police halt it," complains saxophone player Marion, rushing to be in time for a concert by famous Balkan composer and musician Goran Bregovic.

Policemen and security agents keep a low profile to ensure the festival's pace stays frantic but under control. Not an easy job at the festival which expects to welcome more then 800,000 visitors this year.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform